Even if you don’t have decent T-Mobile coverage and can’t use their low cost, no-contract service, you have to appreciate what they are doing to shake up the US wireless industry. The latest consumer-friendly change comes from AT&T where many families can now get a large block of shared data with unlimited talk and text for $175 or less.
AT&T provided the table above in their press release and as you can see a family of five like mine can get unlimited talk and text with 10GB of shared data on smartphones for $175, before taxes. Verizon’s total for the same five lines is a whopping $300. Just for monthly line access for five smartphones I would have to pay $200 on Verizon, which alone is greater than what AT&T and T-Mobile charge for everything. Verizon does have excellent coverage for me though, which is why I keep an iPad on their LTE network so I get the best coverage possible with my devices.
As I previously wrote, I pay just $130 for five lines (increased $10 from my article since I bumped up my data line to unlimited). One major limitation with my current plan is that the four lines are limited to 500MB of data at LTE/HSPA+ while mine is unlimited. It is $10 for each of these lines to get 2.5GB of LTE data each so if I did that then my monthly fee would be $170, which is still a fantastic deal and less than AT&T’s new family plan.
Be aware that you need to join the AT&T Next program (not very consumer friendly), bring your own device, or purchase a phone at full retail to take advantage of this new family shared plan. Many T-Mobile phones work fine with AT&T and you can always pick up a decent unlocked smartphone for a reasonable price. Next wasn’t a great deal before, but with these new lower priced plans the math may work out OK.
One aspect of these new plans that I find particularly interesting is that the five phone limit seems to have been lifted. It looks like these carriers are offering small business support for larger family plan offerings. Both Verizon and AT&T offer these shared plans on up to 10 devices. However, I still see the five line limit on T-Mobile and understand you need a business account to add more with a charge of $20 per line after five lines.
I have five people in my immediate family, but I have considered adding my mother-in-law and other extended family members to my plan to lower their costs. As a smartphone reviewer, I also like to have an extra line or two to test other devices and in the past I have added prepaid accounts. I am moving to a new house in April and will have to see how my T-Mobile coverage is there, but I could move my family to AT&T and add in a couple extra lines for a reasonable cost.